Last week I went to the Scotch Whisky Tour along the Royal Mile in Edinburgh, Scotland. It was a cold, rainy day and we needed some fun indoor options. I had never given much thought to whisky or scotch or how it was made, but figured it would be a warm and dry way to spend the hour.
At the beginning of the tour, visitors receive a complimentary glass and a splash of rich, amber whisky. If you’re under 18, you can choose from dram or soft drinks instead. This seemed like a great way to start the tour and our guide instructed us on how to analyze its color and taste. I could taste bits of spice and orange with a smoky oak undertone.
The next leg of the tour showed a video that left something to be desired with a trip back in time to Scotland’s distilleries. I did learn about the different phases of how it’s all made:
Malting – Barley is soaked with water and spread out on malting floors to germinate
Mashing – Dried malt is ground and processed with hot water
Fermentation – The “wort” is cooled and eventually yeast is added to start the fermentation, giving whisky its alcoholic content
Pot Stills – The shape of the pot mysteriously (they don’t seem to know why it works) helps give whisky its flavor and the Scots continue to use it the same way as their ancestors.
Distillation – The “wash” is distilled to help separate water from the alcohol and get rid of all the residue and yeast from the pots
Spirit Safe – A “stillman” tests and judges the whisky without ever physically touching it.
It takes years for whisky to be ready for distribution and only whisky grown on Scottish soil can be called Scotch. I learned a little more about Scotland’s heritage and saw a boring video told by a ghost. That part I could have skipped. Eventually we made our way onto moving barrels and rode through time to learn more about the whisky.
If you’re 18 or older, you can also buy a tour that lets you taste various whiskies at the end. We just bought a single scotch and shared it while we waited for the rain to let up.
Even if you’re not of drinking age, the Whisky Tour is a great way to spend an hour or two and learn more about Scotland.
But don’t expect any high-tech visuals, modern technology, or anything too exciting. They are in the process of renovations, so they just might unveil something completely different to try. The tour is also toted as “family friendly”, so ask your parents if they want to go.
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